Councils must decide on cannabis
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | Nov. 22, 2018|
As Dysart et al, Minden Hills, Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East prepare for their inaugural meetings in early December, they’re very soon going to have to make some decisions about cannabis. In particular, they are going to have to decide whether or not they will allow a cannabis retail store in their townships.
Recently, the Ontario government established strict regulations for the licensing and operation of private cannabis stores. In case you missed it - possible in the wake of voluminous provincial government announcements over the past few weeks - the PCs say they’re out to protect children and combat the illegal market. They also say they want to protect youth, and keep communities and roads safe.
The stores are poised to open April 1, 2019 under the planned close oversight of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The PC rules are hardly rocket science, more basic common sense. And, it’s pretty clear that they’re city-centric. For example, the stores must be a minimum of 150 metres or 500 feet from schools. That shouldn’t be a problem in Haliburton, Minden, Wilberforce or Dorset. The others are no-brainers. They must be stand-alone stores. Retailers won’t be permitted to allow anyone under the age of 19 in. If the applicant has cannabis related criminal offences, he or she need not apply. If they’re involved in organized crime, they’re also ineligible. Mind you, if someone is involved in organized crime, are they likely to check that off on the application form? We’re not sure how the PCs will enforce that.
Other requirements are that you be up to date with your taxes. Further, owners and employees will be required to complete approved training to ensure the responsible sale of cannabis. And, the store hours will be 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
For the townships, they’d better circle Dec. 17 on their calendars. That’s when it’s expected the AGCO will begin accepting applications. By now, local councils should have a pretty good idea where they stand on these stores and if they’ll opt in or opt out. They’ll also have to figure out how to spend their portion of the $40 million that is being sent to help municipalities with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization. It will be interesting to see who comes forward. We would expect at least one potential store owner to in the county, maybe two.
We also anticipate that our councils will likely opt in to allow retail cannabis stores here. It is hardly the time to shut the door now that the federal cannabis legalization horse has bolted. These stores are businesses. They supply a product that will be in demand and it makes good economic sense to have them here, as opposed to sending people out of town to do their shopping. Minden Hills and Dysart et al hold their inaugural meetings Dec. 3, Algonquin Highlands on Dec. 4 and Highlands East on Dec. 6. If you have an opinion on this issue, we urge you to get in touch with your elected officials.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.